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Lake Tanganyika countries meet on action plan for first stock assessment in decades

Action plan marks start of 10-year FISH4ACP strategy to strengthen fisheries value chains in Tanzania

21 March 2023, Dar es Salaam - A key fisheries and aquaculture development programme that has highlighted the potential for the development and sustainability of small-scale fisheries in the United Republic of Tanzania is bringing together Lake Tanganyika countries to consider an action plan for the lake’s first stock assessment in decades.   

FAO’s FISH4ACP is an initiative led by the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, funded by the European Union and Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 

Tanzania is one of the first of 12 African, Caribbean and Pacific states analysed by the global fish value chain development programme.  In a report presented to key partners in Tanzania today, FAO reviews the current state of sardine, sprat and perch fisheries on Lake Tanganyika and looks at ways to enhance sustainable growth and development of fisheries in the country. 

Helping the countries around Lake Tanganyika set up an action plan for a lake-wide stock assessment is a key priority of FISH4ACP’s 10-year strategy that has just started.  FISH4ACP is hosting a workshop in Dar es Salaam to outline new ways for Tanzania and neighbouring countries to improve their methodology for fisheries stock assessment. 

The long-term strategy for Tanzania over the next decade is designed to strenghen its position as a key producer and exporter of Lake Tanganyika sprat, sardine and perch through the enhancement of a sustainable value chain, which can generate more jobs and higher incomes for both men and women. 

Nyabenyi Tipo, FAO’s country representative in Tanzania, says: “Ultimately, FISH4ACP in Tanzania is focused on making fisheries and aquaculture value chains more productive and sustainable, with an emphasis on supporting women given their crucial role in fish value chains - and adding value to the product.” 

The workshop is looking at how to evaluate some stocks in Lake Tanganyika with the support of FISH4ACP, and possible approaches being used in other great lakes of the region such as Lake Malawi/Nyasa and Lake Victoria. Ultimately, it is hoped that the workshop will lead to an action plan for further in-depth fish stock assessment at Lake Tanganyika.  

“There is a greater need for increasing transparency and local knowledge,” says Rishi Sharma, senior fishery resources officer in FAO’s assessment and management team. “The first stage of the workshop will involve the countries surrounding Lake Tanganyika - Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia – and working together to assess stocks of perch and sprat. 

For the second part of the workshop, FAO has developed a unique methodology for assessing stock status and is sharing the model with Members and partners in the region.  “The second part of the workshop looks at the region spanning the south-west Indian Ocean from the Arab Peninsula to South Africa as well as all the island countries in the region, Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius.”  

FAO has been publishing regular analyses of global fish stocks since 1971 and updates are presented in FAO’s biennial flagship report, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA). These analyses are based on a fixed list of stocks which account for over 70 percent of global fish landings.  However, fisheries have changed dramatically in recent decades. The types of stocks and methods of exploitation have changed and so too have the tools and requirements for calculating global information.  

FAO wants to gain more information and data on stocks of national and regional importance and this is critical for policymakers and those who work in the sector in countries like Tanzania. FAO believes the time is right to conduct a methodological update on the state of world fish stocks – one that is better aligned with national SDG reporting initiatives and with the kind of participation and transparency that reflects the current social, economic and ecological context of fisheries around the world. 

“We will work with the workshop participants on developing their capacity to conduct a stock assessment, and a new list of stocks to represent the region, and show them how to assess their stocks with their own data,” says Sharma. “It’s a complex statistical model. “ 

The value chain analysis conducted by FISH4ACP provided the basis for further action to develop fisheries in Tanzania. In keeping with the long-term strategy, the review proposed further improvements in processing techniques, increased participation by women, better co-ordination to enable high-quality fish to reach urban markets and greater compliance with legislation to ensure the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources. 

All FISH4ACP’s value chain analyses in 12 countries are based on 5 200 interviewees, with more than 100 focus groups and 50 stakeholder workshops organized to validate findings. The five value chain assessment reports published (Côte d’Ivoire, Guyana, Marshall Islands, Senegal, Tanzania) helped to field test FAO’s value chain analysis method which will be published in the months to come.  

FAO's work in fisheries and aquaculture promotes the effective management of aquatic living resources and the development of capacities to ensure equitable outcomes for all. It is focused on a Blue Transformation, a vision committed to building sustainability and resilience. 

Much of FISH4ACP’s work addresses the needs of artisanal fishers, fish farmers and fish workers. The contribution of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture to our food systems, our livelihoods and our environment has been celebrated through the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA), which will end officially on 31 March